Did you recently lose a loved one because of an accident or medical negligence?
If so, you’re not alone. Each year, more than 190,000 people die because of similar circumstances.
There’s nothing you can do to bring your loved one back, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. Many in your situation choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for their loss.
Here are five important things you should know before you file a wrongful death suit.
1. Wrongful Death Is a Civil Charge
The highly publicized OJ Simpson case highlights an important fact: Criminal and civil charges are mutually exclusive.
In Simpson’s case, he was found “not guilty” of the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. However, a civil court found him guilty for their wrongful deaths and ordered a payout of $33.5 million.
What does this mean for you? If you fail to win a criminal case, you may still win a civil suit (wrongful death) against the responsible party.
2. The State Decides Who Can Sue
In all states, surviving spouses may file a wrongful death lawsuit for the loss of their mate. The same goes for parents of a minor child who dies or minor children who lose a parent.
After that, it starts to get tricky. In some states, adult parents can file a lawsuit for the death of their adult child (or vice versa). In other states, this is not allowed.
The same is true for suits filed by siblings or extended family members. It simply depends on which state you live in. This is one reason why you need a skilled wrongful death attorney to help you understand the laws in your locale.
3. It’s Not Always About Breaking the Law
Any business or individual that’s acted imprudently can be held accountable for a wrongful death. This is true even if they didn’t technically “break the law.”
A common example is a medical professional who veers away from accepted standards of care. It may also apply to faulty or malfunctioning equipment, such as Toyota’s risky accelerator design in 2010.
4. It’s Not Always About Financial Losses
The death of a spouse or parent may result in financial loss for the family. This is one aspect of a wrongful death lawsuit, but it’s not the only one.
It’s also possible to sue for mental and emotional pain and suffering. One young girl was awarded $150 million in emotional damages after watching her family burn alive in a car accident.
5. You Must Act Within a Certain Timeframe
A final point to consider is the statute of limitations in your state. Depending on the local laws, you may have several months or up to two years to file a wrongful death suit.
Don’t delay if you’re thinking of filing! If you miss your window of opportunity, it may be too late to begin your case.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Now You Know
These are just a few of the many factors to consider before you file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Are you ready to move forward? Do you have further questions about wrongful death cases?
Click here to contact us and set up a free case evaluation.